Saturday, December 11, 2010

Drop It Like It's Hot

Hey everyone, I hope that you had a less stressful week than I did.  Trolls, trolls everywhere.  It might be time for another troll of the week post next week.  At any rate, this is your weekly reminder about the Womanist Musings open guest posting policy.  If you would like to participate in the conversations that happen here, please send a link to your blog or an original piece of work via e-mail to womanistmusings(at)gmail(dot)com.  Please include a small three line bio and an image that you would like associated with your work.

Below you will find a list of posts that I found interesting this week.  Please show these bloggers some love and check them out.  When you are done, don't forget to drop it like it's hot, and leave your link behind in the comment section

I Scream, You Scream: Illustrating Part of the Problem
Why Did Victoria's Secret Brand Black Models 'Wild Things'
Disney boosts the "gender-neutral" white male default 
Antagonism in the White Trans Community
The Lies of the American Dream
Interns Built the Pyramids
Why no one should use that word: Kyriarchy instead of Patriarchy
Twenty links about Assange, consent, and rape
Tangled: The End of the Princess era Just as They Get it (Mostly) Right
House Proud 
Social Justice Matters: Solitary Confinement 
Fighting Words
An Acceptable Ignorance
Dispatch From Cancun: Developing Paradise in the Suicide Capitol 
Gay Jokes Hurt the Straight Folk Too

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's Friday and The Question Is.........

What megadouche celebrity would you most like to see with their mouth covered with duct tape for twenty four hours and why?

<---------- For being a xenophobic ass hat who loudly trumpets his racism every time he is on the air.  Also for ultra conservative views on politics.  The fact that he is considered a Canadian Icon make me sick.

Just sign me pinko and happy

Privilege Denying Dude

The awesome Jaded16 introduced me to this cool meme generator that I thought others would like to play with.  Hey, it's Friday, let's all have some fun. 

Kathy Griffin, Bristol Palin and The White Precious

Kathy Griffin is a comedian who routinely gets it wrong.  She is nothing more than an offensive shock jock, whose 15 minutes of fame, should have been over a long time ago.

At VH1's Divas Salute the Troops, Griffin thought it would be funny to announce that Bristol had gained so much weight on Dancing With The Stars, that she had become the """White Precious"

Predictably, the crowd booedMany blogs have called Griffin out on her obvious fat phobia, as well as the lengths that she has personally undergone to achieve and maintain an idealized female form. What most people do not comment on however, is the obvious race and class disparity that this joke ignores. The character Precious, was a poor Black woman, who survived rape by her father as well as sexual, physical and emotional abuse by her mother.  At the start of the story, she felt invisible and powerless.   The novel Push, on which the movie was based, was essentially an updated version of The Color Purple and was strictly an African American story.

Gender in Commercials

I was sent the following video from a reader and I thought it would lead to an interesting conversation.

OutSourcing Dusty Bodies

Jaded16 is a Radical Feminist from India. She writes a humour blog Oi With The Poodles Already’, attempting to make her world a little woman-friendly using healthy doses of irony and sarcasm to de-condition the Indian masses. It is at times like these when she loses all her sense of humour and starts looking for a rock big enough to live under.

Existing as a Dusty Third Worldling while being a Lady is a strange enough predicament on its own --whether it's under Western or Oriental eyes -- anyone who identifies as a Lady in this part of the world will tell you so. Before you can get your words out, she'll tell you how unfair her life is simply because there is no Y-chromosome in her body, she will meet your stare and agree that it was too essentialist of her to fixate on that Y-chromosome but won't let you make her feel guilty as she firmly asserts, "This is how things are here" and when you start to talk about enough transpeople in the world get discriminated over a few socially 'unfit' or 'mismatched' genes, she'll observe wryly that it's the System and Patriarchy that makes her so and this cold, scientific speech and facts aren't her preferred mode of communication or discourse anyway; then she'll go on to say how trans bodies are policed in her community and you'll squirm in your seat, wondering why did you ever challenge the notion that being a Dusty Third Worldling  is a hard position to occupy as she points out systematically the many viscerally real forces that oppress her while now you feel guilty for pitying her even as she talks which she sees right away and starts enumerating other factors that lead you deeper in the existential quagmire this conversation has long become and you further alarm yourself by thinking if she wants some donation money out of you as you try to keep your face expressionless. Meanwhile, the 'economically-challenged' Dusty Lady she employs sweeps the floor beneath your feet as the two of you further dis-sect the post of the post-colonial.

Leaving creative flippancy aside, many discussions and discourses coming out and around the Third World tend to not engage with the Subaltern -- who knew the Third World had its own systems to squash and oppress? -- they simply talk about this bottom tier as it were. Words keep floating by, and till people from the Subaltern are addressed by someone stepping in from caste or class privilege, the Subaltern is kept mute -- raise your hand if you think this is too imperial to be true -- and when the Subaltern does speak, these words are too exotic, even for its Dusty counterparts. So then this detongued bottom shelf is appropriated and fixed in as many ways as possible, quite akin to a laboratory animal positioned to be experimented on. One example of this Subaltern-animal is the burgeoning female surrogacy industry in India, where we speak of the people who give out away their Wombs as helpless, agency-less creatures who don't understand the 'importance' or 'boon' that motherhood is as she 'pawns' her uterus away. Not only is this image of the benevolent Third World Woman perpetuated in urban and privileged echelons of India, but quite predictably in the West as well, with an even more sinister motive. When the image of the Dusty Goddess-Mother is created for Western audiences, it creates quite ostensibly a loophole that allows people to see it as a part of our chemical make-up, where we exist to serve you and just as easily over-writes the slavery it really is, leaving the Westerner free of guilt and ready to consume bodies, like microwaveable dinners. It comes as no surprise that Indian wombs come cheap for rent, as medical tourism is quick to remind us; too quick even. While I am not at all against surrogate mothers or people who choose to have babies through IVF, I am skeptical to what extent this transaction is consensual or non-exploitative for Dusty Ladies.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What Do You Enjoy

Everyday I write about isms and though it is important work there are days that I just don't want to think, see, or hear about another negative.  Instead of doing my usual three pm post, I thought we could talk about things that makes us smile.

I love to hear Destruction sing, his voice is so beautiful and pure.
I love hearing the baby have a big ole belly laugh.
I love the way the fall smells and the sound of leaves crunching under my feet.
I love getting tanked and watching my favorite Christmas movies while I wrap presents. 
I love looking in the mirror and realizing I look damn good.
I love to cook meals for my family.
I love kissing my unhusband and seeing him smile.
I love curling on my couch and reading a good book and doubly so if it involves vampires or urban fantasy.
I love watching silly shows like Brothers and Sisters and in fact I am watching it as I type.
I love a good story or a good joke
I love crocs and ugly animal slippers
I love chatting on the phone with my friends
I love chocolate it soothes my savage sweet tooth
And Finally,
I love green tea

Share what makes you happy.  Sometimes it just feels good to focus on the positive.

Sex and Sexual Enjoyment Plays a Huge Part in Islam

WoodTurtle is a Canadian Muslim feminist currently using her extended maternity leave to explore developments of Islamic feminism in the Western and Muslim world.  As a woman who wears the hijab (owns several abayas and a niqab monogrammed with her initials in pink, sparkly sequins), she writes frequently on genderized Islamophobia. She also works toward dispelling myths and stereotypes about women in Islam for both Muslims and non.

You don’t often hear about Muslims enjoying sex in the mainstream news. Maybe that’s because we always seem to be having babies — and you all know how much sex a couple with a baby (or two, or three) is probably having.

But in the Media, the idea of sex in Islam is second only to niqaab and terrorism. Primarily because hetero sex, sexual expression, sexual freedom, sexual exploitation, and sexual stereotypes at times deals with female liberation VS male dominance. And the Western Media really, really wants to liberate Muslim women. How on earth can a woman who’s covered from head to toe in that black thing be having sex? Good sex? Enjoying sex? Selling sex? Kinky sex? How on earth indeed. How on a bed, in a car, on a train, in a shower, with herself, with more than one partner, with a same sex partner? Muslims? No way.

They’re way too pious. Too 7th century (they apparently didn’t have sex either). Too different. Too Arab. In the Western literary tradition, there exists a stereotypical picture of the Muslim woman as veiled, untouchable and subjugated by her lustful and dominant Arab partner. That for some (Muslim and non) the Muslim women’s dress code is paramount to controlling their sexuality as well as their actions, voice, and public power — and that women must be segregated or secluded to protect men from their tempting wiles.

Which leaves the orientalist picture of the lustful Muslim male as cavorting through the West and practicing on “promiscuous” non-Muslim women before returning home to his four virginal wives. Meanwhile, Muslim women are forcibly sexually ignorant until the wedding night. Why else would there be a cultural appropriation of a woman and her body through a piece of cloth, if not for the insane machinations of sex-starved men? And if they control how the women dress, who knows what other kinky, crazy ways these women are controlled.

Thank You Duncan Hines for the Blackface Cupcakes

Former Gucci Designer Tom Ford On Fat Women and Clothing

Melissa from Shakesville, would probably have called this post, Today in Fat Hatred.  It seems that Tom Ford, the former designer for Gucci, recently had something significant to say about fat women and clothing.
He said: "I spend most of my time at home naked. You know, most people actually look better nude. We are all one harmonious colour, with a symmetry and an innate elegance. Fat women almost always look better without the constraint and lumpy pinching of clothes, all the straps and elastic squeezing and sucking. (emphasis mine) "We are the only animal that wears clothes, and that can't just be because dogs can't do up buttons."
While he believes most people look better naked, Tom - who recently released his first womenswear collection in six years - says he wants his clothes to be flattering and timeless.(source)
So, what he is really saying, is that he does not want fat women wearing his clothes.  It seems that the reason certain clothing does not look nice, is because of  a failure of fat women to have size appropriate bodies and certainly not that of a designer, who never bothered to learn how to design for fat women.   Even though Tom Ford is an ass for being so direct in his obvious biases and hatred, many designers simply reify his statements by not creating clothes for fat women.  Many fashions don't even go up to a size 16, let alone a 20-30.  It's as though because of the very nature of being fat, we don't deserve  clothing to wear.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Louis C.K. on Slavery

 Louis C.K. recently appeared on The Tonight Show. What he had to say was not only apt, it was funny.

Pregnant Women Are Smug

I have often written about the public attacks on motherhood, but when I came across an anthem attacking pregnant women, I realized that it made the point better than I ever have.

No, Dad, I am Not Going to Conform Just For You

I am a 36 year old disabled woman who has been variously labeled "fat", "crazy", and "a hippie weirdo." I now try to embrace labels that others use in an attempt to "shame" me into being someone more "acceptable". I am passionate about issues of race/racism, criminal (in)justice, fat acceptance, and mental health advocacy. I blog at My Name Is JuJuBe and I am on the team at The Intersection of Madness and Reality

The day before Halloween, I got into an argument with my father. He told me that I could not attend a party thrown by a family friend because I “was not invited”. Now, mind you, this is a party that happens every year, and is basically an open house. The attendees at the party are all people who I have known since I was a toddler, and an invitation has never been  required at any event they host. In fact, that all gush on and on about how happy they are to see me on the rare occasions I DO attend. But, this was the second time my father used the “no invitation” excuse to exclude me.

I told my father that I felt like he was ashamed of me, and that was the reason he did not want me around his friends. He did not bother denying it. I also said I felt that he cared more about his wife’s family than his own. He did not deny that either. So, I told him I did not need him in my life if that was his attitude.

Well, my birthday came and went, with no call from my father. Thanksgiving too. Then, a few nights ago, my father called me to find out if I wanted him in my life. I told him that if he was ashamed of me, I did not need him anymore. I really expected that my father would take this opportunity to tell me that I was wrong, that he was NOT ashamed of me. Nope, didn’t happen.

Instead, my father went told me that I “needed to change”. He told me that I talk about inappropriate topics, that I do not think like a “normal” person and that it is embarrassing. When I asked him for examples, he brought up the fact that I declare a desire to have a child. And I am NOT MARRIED!! God forbid a 37 year old woman contemplate having a child without a husband! I mean, what will the neighbors think? The funny thing is, I usually only discuss my desire to be a mother around him and his wife. There has only been ONE time that I mentioned it in front of one of his friends, and I caught Hell for that!

Another example of my supposed “odd” way of thinking is my curiosity about all sorts of things. I was told by his wife that I was “not normal” because I decided to do some research after I discovered that some women are addicted to corn starch. I had been speaking about it to her daughter, and mentioned that I did not know if they have nutritional deficiencies that they were compensating for, or if they were getting high. His wife accused me of telling her teenage grand daughter how to get high off of corn starch. Ummm… not even close to the truth. I was simply speaking about a topic I wanted to research, and supposedly my curiosity was “strange”.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Is the Whip My Hair Cover Racist?

Willow Smith recently released the song Whip My Hair.  There is something extremely celebratory about a young Black girl singing about hair in a positive manner.  Few can reasonably deny that hair has been used to reduce Black womanhood and continues to have harmful effects to this day.  There are grown women who have no idea what the natural texture of their hair is, because of generations of racism and sexism.

I recently came across a video on youtube, in which a young White girl decided to make an acoustic version of Whip My Hair.

On Canada's 'Highway of Tears'

The "Highway of Tears" are three connected roadways stretching 750km across British Columbia, from Prince George to Prince Rupert. It is the area where 18 aboriginal women have been found murdered, or are suspected to be missing.

These ongoing and unsolved acts of violence have been traced over a 35-year period: the first body found was 14-year-old Monica Ignas, discovered in 1975. In June 1994, 16-year-old Ramona Wilson was last seen hitchhiking to a friend's home; her body was found the following April. Other families are left with a desperate lack of leads: Nicole Hoar was hitchhiking to visit her sister in 2002 and eight years later, her family is still waiting to receive any information about her whereabouts. Last October, the decomposed body of Cynthia Frances Maas was found; she had last been seen alive on 10 September. Her remains were identified through the use of a fingerprint comparison, allowing her family to end their search.

Since the discovery of Maas's body, the media have fixated on the fact that Maas was a sex worker, rather than giving voice to the family and friends mourning her loss. RCMP Staff Sgt Bruce Hulan, who is a member of E-Pana (the taskforce assigned to investigate the missing and murdered women), described the victims as being involved in high-risk activities: "hitchhiking or [involved in] street trade [prostitution]." The continued mention of supposedly "high-risk" behaviour, by both the police and the media, is enough to cause the public to disregard what is happening to these women.

As a result of poverty, racism, sexism, and an inadequate transportation system, these women were left without the basic securities afforded to more privileged Canadians. Indeed, young First Nations women are five times more likely than their Canadian counterparts to die as the result of violence; they have been constructed as a "surplus population", as can be seen by the high rate of trafficking of aboriginal women and girls in Canada.

Finish reading here

Tim Wise On Guilt Vs Responsibility

Wise made a speech in Detroit on October 6th.  The following clip is in response to a question from the audience.

Spark of Wisdom: Predicting The Next Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Book

This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness.  Many of you are  familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky. 
It occurs to me that I'm rapidly approaching the point where I should be looking to buy the next Anita Blake book. Gods why I do this to myself. I think the only defense is that they've now become so utterly bad that they're almost comic.

To extract every ounce of amusement and hopefully set myself up for a pleasant surprise, I have gazed into my crystal ball to predict the plot of this next worthy novel.
The scene opens with Anita having sex. I’ll say on the kitchen table - not done that yet and gods forbid we miss a cliche. The sex will probably be portrayed as kinky, but be more vanilla than an ice-cream van. For more detail I predict:

Monday, December 6, 2010

CNN: Frida Khalo and Same Sex Marriage WTF

Frida engaged in many same sex love affairs throughout her life, but she was married to a man.  I certainly do not understand this image:

Did no one care enough about the fight for same sex marriage to ensure that image properly represented the fight?  Yeah, I don't get it.  Am I missing something?

Irene Bedard: The Open Secret of Domestic Violence

You may be familiar with Irene Bedard, as the voice of Disney's Pocahontas, or perhaps in her starring role in the television miniseries “Into the West”.What you may not know about her, is that she is a survivor of domestic violence.  The following is an excerpt from a letter written by her family.

Irene moved to Alaska in an attempt to flee a horrific domestic violence situation. For 17 years, she suffered abuse, both sexually and physically, at the hands of the one person she should have been able to trust implicitly, her husband. The years of abuse left not only her body, but also her spirit and mind, battered. The abuse had been so pervasive, her health began to decline, rapidly. Her doctor began tests to detect cancer, unaware of the abuse. As heinous as the physical and mental tolls were, they were not the only price my aunt had to pay.

Her abusive husband kept her under financial control, taking her earnings, and forbidding her to work in her career field, unless he specifically approved the project. This had a detrimental effect on an otherwise promising career. As I stated earlier, my aunt starred in two important productions highlighting the plight of Native Americans. She intended to use her celebrity to bring light to the rich and beautiful heritage of all Native Americans, and Alaskan Natives, in particular. However, her husband’s control and abuse made this impossible. She could not work with bruises on her skin, and his constant presence at her work sites made not only Irene, but also others in the cast and crew uneasy. This cost my aunt jobs. No one wanted to have her husband on the set, and he would not allow her to work without him being there. While the loss of income was financially devastating for my aunt, the loss of her platform to share her heritage with the world was even more so.

As in most domestic violence cases, not only did my aunt’s husband hurt her physically, and caused her to lose her career, he aliened from her from family, friends, and fans, her support system. He had to have total control over her and their child. It was because of her son, Quinn, that she did not leave. She felt she had to endure all of the abuse for his sake. If she left her abuser, he would follow her, and, she feared, use and possibly harm their son to force her to come back to him. She felt ashamed, embarrassed, humiliated, and powerless. It was only through an intervention by her family that she began to regain her spirit to defend herself, and make a better life for her son. She felt broken. But, with the love, encouragement, and support of her family, she felt there was hope for her and her son. With the help of her family, she moved to Alaska, where she could get treatment for her health, and counseling for herself and her son.

She filed for a domestic violence protective order, and for divorce. She hired an attorney in Alaska, and an attorney in Ohio. Her attorneys told her that she could obtain jurisdiction in Alaska if, in fact, she could prove that domestic violence had occurred. She gathered her evidence, and found her witnesses. All the while, she was still being pursued and harassed, through her son, by her abuser, and even by the law. The very laws that are supposed to protect her were threatening to take her child away from her, if she did not return him to Ohio. But, she still held on to hope that this would work even though deep down she was terrified that she would lose the one and only good thing that came out of her marriage, her son. The Ohio lawyer told her, since she had filed for divorce first, and because this was a domestic violence case, by Ohio state laws jurisdiction would fall in Alaska. She went to trial, in Alaska, to prove the domestic abuse. She had to tell her story and relive the 17-year nightmare, again. When it came it to her abusers turn, he backed out of testifying, and offered her a deal that sounded too good to be true. He acknowledged the domestic violence, but stated that he would only stop contesting the domestic violence, with certain stipulations. Her lawyer explained the stipulations to her and said it would be a good thing because he would have a domestic violence conviction and she was on a limited time frame. She listened to his advice and accepted the stipulations. However, the attorney made a huge mistake, which would cost her greatly. The Alaska lawyer did not read the stipulations thoroughly. One of the stipulations of the agreement is the finding of no facts in the domestic violence case. This gave the protective order no weight in the Ohio courts. Additionally, it moved jurisdiction of the case to Ohio. This was not in her best interest at all. Ohio laws do not offer the same protection for domestic abuse victims and their children as Alaska laws do. Clearly, these concessions were not in her best interest, and his incompetence hurt her case. She even heard him admit to this, later, to her abusers attorney, none the less. The Ohio courts ordered her to come back to Ohio, with her son, or face a Contempt of Court charge, which would have put her in jail, and left her son defenseless and living with an abusive father. Without the protection of the Alaska courts, Irene had little choice but to move back to Ohio, and back to her abuser. Again, the abuser has her isolated from her family, friends, fans, and even work. Again, she is living in fear. Again, she cannot freely pursue the career of her choice. Again, she has to give what money she does earn to her abuser. It is abundantly clear why she was afraid to leave in the first place. Everything she feared about the legal system has happened.

The Old Man and the Health Insurance Policy

Matt Kailey is a transman living in Denver, Colorado, and an author, public speaker, and trainer on transgender issues. He blogs at Tranifesto. In his ideal world, no one would be equal to anyone else – everyone would just be equal.

I realize that any complaint about my health insurance comes from a place of privilege, because, as a resident of the United States, I'm lucky to have any kind of health insurance at all. 

I have, in fact, had some kind of health insurance my entire life, and many people would consider themselves lucky to have my kind of gripes. Nevertheless, we tend to complain at the level of our privilege. I have no grievance about my private jet, my BMW, or even my iPad - I don't have them and can't afford them. 

And there are going to be plenty more things I can't afford now that my insurance rates have gone up. It's not because I'm trans (most insurance doesn't pay for trans-related care anyway). My insurance company is punishing me because I'm getting old.

Apparently, in health-insurance land, 55 is the magic age for major physical deterioration. I hit that milestone this year, and my rates took a major hike. And, in one of the few areas where age discrimination can still be overt and in writing, my employer, who carries my policy, was informed that my severely increased rate was strictly age related.

Today I Remember The Women of École Polytechnique

(21 years ago Marc Lépine went on a shooting spree, which today has become known as the Montreal Massacre. By the end of the day, 14 women would be murdered by his hand for the crime of being women.  This horrible massacre continues to resonate deeply with Canadian women, as we use this day to say unequivocally that violence against women must stop.  I wrote the following piece 2 years ago, and decided to re-post it today)

For women across Canada, December 6 is a day that we are reminded that despite the gains of feminism and women’s work to end gender based violence, we are still marginalized and vulnerable bodies. It is the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. On this day we think of Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.

To ensure that there was no confusion as to why he felt the need to enter École Polytechnique and massacre 14 women, Marc Lépine left behind a detailed three page letter in which he blamed feminists for being “so opportunistic they neglect to profit from the knowledge accumulated by men through the ages. They always try to misrepresent them every time they can”. He considered himself to be “rational” and therefore, he felt his rage against feminists was justified. He went on to state in his suicide note, "why persevere to exist if it is only to please the government. Being rather backward-looking by nature (except for science), the feminists have always enraged me. They want to keep the advantages of women (e.g. cheaper insurance, extended maternity leave preceded by a preventative leave, etc.) while seizing for themselves those of men.” Lépine was so angry at the perceived loss of unearned male privilege, due to the advances of feminism, his letter also included a list of nineteen other women that he also wished to see dead.

After such a horrible event there were many that felt that this terrible act of violence should be looked upon as the actions of a sole mad man, who had lost the capacity to reason. While it might be comforting to look at this as a singular incident, to do so would mean ignoring the degree of violence that Canadian women live with on a daily basis.

Lépine was the product of domestic violence, having grown up in a home where he spent his early childhood with an abusive father that routinely told him that women existed to serve men. Is it any surprise that after having been indoctrinated in this way, in his formative years, that he would come to see any woman with agency as a threat to what he considered traditional gender roles?
Even knowing that the end product of such an environment for children is dangerous, in that it produces men like Lépine, socially we still exist with the idea that a clear distinction between genders is necessary to our well being. We use colloquial phrases like, boys will be boys to justify violence, or aggressive behaviour in young males, while encouraging docility and submissiveness in young girls. The discord in worth and value between men and women is systemic.